Pa. judge hands setback to Penn State defendants

AP News
Posted: Jan 17, 2014 5:34 PM

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania judge ruled Friday against former Penn State administrators who want to keep the university's former general counsel off the stand as they face charges of a criminal cover-up of complaints about Jerry Sandusky, but the issue could resurface.

Dauphin County Judge Todd Hoover issued a brief order that said the attempts to prevent testimony by Cynthia Baldwin were premature but left open the possibility that they can be raised again later. He also sought information relating to their argument that Baldwin's actions violated their right to legal counsel and that their criminal cases should be dismissed.

The defendants are retired athletic director Tim Curley, retired vice president Gary Schultz and Graham Spanier, a faculty member who was forced out as president after Sandusky's arrest more than two years ago.

The three men have argued they believed Baldwin was representing them in early 2011, when they testified before a grand jury investigating Sandusky for sexual abuse of children. They face charges of perjury, obstruction, conspiracy, child endangerment and failure to properly report suspected abuse. No trial date has been scheduled.

Hoover also ordered lawyers for the defendants to file documents that include discussion of legal issues related to their efforts to have charges thrown out over alleged violations of lawyer-client privilege.

Curley's lawyer said she was reviewing the new filings and would produce the document within a month. A spokesman for the attorney general's office and Baldwin's lawyer both declined to comment, while lawyers for Spanier and Schultz did not return phone messages left late Friday.

Hoover wrote that he was denying motions to preclude testimony that were filed in November 2012, before a preliminary hearing was held that resulted in the cases being sent to county court for trial. Baldwin did not testify at the preliminary hearing.

In a joint motion at that time, lawyers for Curley and Schultz said Baldwin should not be allowed to testify against them.

"In the absence of a waiver by the client, an attorney is barred from testifying, in a criminal matter, regarding statements that the client made to the attorney in confidence," the defense lawyers wrote.

Hoover also told the defense lawyers to identify for him all the previous filings that raise issues related to their clients' representation before the grand jury, and instructed prosecutors to identify any responses they made. Hoover also said the parties should provide him with "succinct and narrow proposed findings of fact, devoid of argument, which are necessary to the court's consideration of the claimed relief."

Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence after being convicted in 2012 of 45 counts for the sexual abuse of 10 boys. The former Penn State assistant football coach maintains his innocence and has a request before the state Supreme Court to take up his appeal.